The Spirit of the 4th of July
Published: 7/2/2018 By: Mike Canning
Happy Fourth of July As a child, I was taught about the Revolutionary War as a historic event, where we “won independence from England”.  I learned the names, Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, etc.  I went on a field trip to the Liberty Bell and thought to myself that it must have been some loud party to make that crack!  Beyond that, the 4th of July was a summer party, filled with fireworks, barbecues, swimming and watermelon. Many of you may have a similar vision when you think of the holiday.  Most of us, however, have little understanding of what the 4th of July represented in 1776.  What began with descent and a conflict in Massachusetts in 1775, would eventually break out into an all-out war that would last for another 8 years and finally achieve the independence we sought.  In fact, on July 2, 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was finalized (it was voted on and approved on July 4th), not only was the fate of the country an uncertainty.  But, many parts of the 13 colonies didn’t see the vision, nor need for independence with the same fervency. The Declaration of Independence committee actually consisted of 5 people, appointed by the Continental Congress in April of 1776.  Thomas Jefferson was selected, for his writing skills, to be the chief architect.  The final wording was a negotiation between committee members, to ensure the appeal would be unanimous, regardless of where in the colonies one lived.  In fact, some speculate that Jefferson’s selection, as well as that of George Washington’s, as Commander-in-Chief, were strategic and pivotal in gaining support from southern states, such as Virginia, where both men lived.  This notice to the King, went far beyond just another grievance to fall on deaf ears.  It was a statement of how the colonies would become a country, where the people would be governed by representatives, with the understanding that rights of the people were not granted by government, but the other way around. For the 56 people who signed the Declaration, it was more than just a commitment to building a new nation, it was an act of treason against England, punishable by death.  I wonder if John Hancock was thinking that as he left the largest visible signature.  Once signed, there was no going back. I grew up in a family that celebrates every 4th of July with a certain pride and appreciation for those who founded this country and everyone who has stood their ground to protect and preserve its founding principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In a time where rhetoric and dividing debate seem unavoidable, we should all take a pause and appreciate what we have and our ability to continually improve upon it.   “The establishment of our new Government seemed to be the last great experiment for promoting human happiness.”                                                                                                                                        -George Washington     Happy 4th of July to you and your family!
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